Tunisian independence

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The process of Tunisian Independence occurred from 1952 to 1956 between France and a separatist movement led by Habib Bourguiba[citation needed]. Bourguiba became the first President of the Republic of Tunisia after negotiations with France successfully brought an end to the colonial protectorate leading to independence.

The way to Tunisian independence[edit]

The first independence movement was formed by The Young Tunisian Party in 1907. By 1920, the Destour, a Tunisian political party, had formed a powerful base that was supported by the Bey. Their following lasted until 1934, when Neo Destour was formed, and brought about by a new generation of young nationalists striving for independence. With a new energized independence movement, the stage was set for a new leader, Habib Bourguiba.

With the threat of independence, the French immediately banned Neo Destour and sent Bourguiba to a variety of French prisons in France where he spent the next 20 years of his life. World War II brought about a halt in Tunisia’s bid for independence, but helped win Bourguiba a transfer from a French prison to an Axis one in Rome. The Nazis attempted to pressure Bourguiba into helping the Axis powers with his influence over the Tunisian independence fighters in pushing back the Allied invasion of North Africa. He refused - primarily due to his belief that Germany would lose the war and was released from prison in 1943 when the Nazi campaign was finally defeated at El Alamein in Egypt. Upon his return to Tunisia, Bourguiba proposed a concept of gradual independence for Tunisia which was supported by most Tunisians. As a means of forcing the French to leave, the Neo Destour returned to armed resistance by carrying attacks on colonial facilities spearheaded by militants such as Chedly Kallala. As a result, from 1952 to 1954, Bourguiba was imprisoned for the attacks, further fueling the fire between Tunisian Independence and French Rule. In June 1954, new French Prime Minister Pierre Mendès France came to power and immediately instituted a withdrawal policy from Tunisia to lessen the violent backlashes occurring in the colonies.

France still retained control of Tunisia’s foreign affairs, and gradually the nations returned to the same arrangement of 1881. By November 1955, France granted Morocco independence; which helped pave the way for Tunisia’s independence. March 20, 1956, Tunisia achieved independence from France proposed by Habib Bourguiba. France, Tunisia, and Western Powers remained in good relations, and maintain significant economic and cultural links to this day.

See also[edit]


  1. Hole, Abigail, Michael Grosberg, and Daniel Robinson, Tunisia, Lonely Planet, 2007. pp28–33.
  2. John Gunther, Inside Africa, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1955. pp146–162.
  3. Us Army, multiple authors, Tunisia – a Country (study), 1st ed. Washington DC: US Government, 1987. pp30–52.
  4. The World Factbook, CIA library